Personal Identity

This is a brief introduction and a reposting of an old Facebook Note.  The Facebook note is one of series about Jesus and the Gospels which I did and which I began to post here within other notes on Veterans Day. I feel the need to get that whole series on to this blog within a reasonably brief period of time. So this is the continuation of that set and is also about identity as I am aware of my own identity today.  I am very aware of all that I have and have not done and all that I have going for and against me today. I also am thinking of Oprah Winfrey’s retirement and Sarah Palin’s book tour. These are two strong personalities whom people relate to as people and who are doing something to define and redefine themselves in the public eye. So I am using this occasion to post this Facebook note and here it is.  

I am still trying to get to a total of 52 Facebook Notes by my June 15 birthday. A birthday is a very personal kind of celebration and is less shared than almost any other. Only twins and other multis fully share a birthday when one is talking about the kind of birthday Americans of my generation celebrate. I have so many varied memories of this day and so many people have almost no significant memories of that day. Then there are a relatively few people who remember sharing it with me. People who happen to share this date of birth are like earth-like planets around other stars — perhaps similar but so far mostly unrelated. A birthday is in large measure a celebration of identity.

Identity is a complex thing. Certainly it can become complicated to discuss and define it.
I wish to discuss some of it now. I think that my parents, who were much younger as my parents than as any other of my syblings’ parents, lived in a generation that were much aware of seeking after their own identity. The search for Identity is certainly on of the great quests of mythology, scripture, history, fiction and ordinary life. Most of us during adolescence have at least some time and inclination to consider who we are and who we would like to become. I have had more than an average amount of leisure for such questions. Partly because of the family and country I come from but partly because of who I am. I have been robbed, assaulted, threatened, intimidated with cut-off electricity and confinement and tempted with all the blandishments of money. sex and power (in a small degree) but I have always remained me — there has always been a whole lot of me that could not lose itself in this process. I still had the problems and flaws that were my problems before and I still had the strengths and accomplishments that were mine before. Many people are less immune to outside influence than I am. There are again various reasons for that fact being true. I will not be able to go through them exhaustively in this note for sure.

However, I am at a point in my life where I know that identity is not the same subject it was for me in adolescence. Like most people I have figured out a great deal more about who I am now that I am 44 than I knew when I was 17. However, there was a lot in my life that was never going to be identifiable and understandable mostly as a question of identity. But identity is important to me.

I think that one part of my identity is that I am willing to make a little trouble. I am willing to raise a little hell, lower a little heaven and then join the fight on Earth when the huge ruckus stirs up. I am not sure that very many people enjoy peace more than I do not am I claiming that I am an invincible super-fighter. However, I am willing to seek out and engage adversaries, opponents, enemies and others with some alacrity and some frequency. I do this in games and sport, in politics and in varied forms of discussion. I do not mind mixing it up.

When we think of all the great power of stars, galaxies, strings and clusters of galaxies we certainly feel small and relatively insignificant. There is a great deal of truth to that insight but it is not the only relevant insight. We are relevant to ourselves and to those around us certainly. It is our responsibility to take ourselves seriously to some extent. It is even our responsibility to be in our corner and love ourselves to the proper (and not to the improper extent). There may be something very wrong with many of us when we get overheated asserting ourselves as Black, white, gay, straight, men, women, Hispanic, Acadian, Mensan, Jewish, Muslim, German, Italian or Buddhist. But there would certainly be a lot more wrong with never trying to figure out who we are, never trying to be loyal to those associated with us, never trying to present our own moral sensibilities to the world around us.

I am the kind of person who is born with a relatively narrow window of approach to both survival and hope . However, I am no one of the very few such people who against almost all odds really find that niche and manage to make it all work out. Rather I am perhaps one of the near also-rans. I look at the unknown relatively numerous outliers who never have known even as close with the world in which we live as I have had upon occasion. I have a good number of friends who have worked far less at paying jobs, have had more trouble with law enforcement and public health officials and have generaly shown more evidence than I of hanging on the very edge of the body politic and public society. We have all go to define ourselves to some degree by our relationship with others.

I think of the song put out a few years back by (then very young) country singer Jessica Andrew that went approximately like this:

“If I never win a Grammy,
That will be all right….
Sometimes I am clueless and I’m clumsy,
But I have friends who love me.
I know exactly who I am —
I am Rosemary’s granddaughter
the spitting image of my father
and my Mama’s still my biggest fan.”

There is a lot of depth and humanity to such a point of view. It is increasingly less credible and relevant today. While it is certainly true that there have always been very serious problems and evils associated with extended family and webs of well-defined relationships it is also true that such relationship networks are valuable at a huge variety of levels and in a huge variety of ways. They are every bit as certain to be valuable and precious to humanity as they are to be poor centers of absolute power. They are part of the very large and important range of troublesome issues and institutions which pay off handsomely when worked well.

We are reminded each day of the value which modern corporations and entrepreneurs put on their identity in business terms and for business purposes. It is simply impossible to overstate how badly a corporate Board of Directors would like to make a manager feel if that manager or executive allows outsiders to write checks on company accounts for their own benefit. However, I think that the struggle of the individual for recognition of his identity socially and otherwise is also a struggle to preserve that which is really precious.

While I have recently disclosed my interpretation that Peter was already important to the Jesus story even before Jesus approached him directly and almost anyone would admit that Jesus developed close ties to him as an Apostle on a variety of occasions. Nonetheless, the moment of the establishment of Petrine Primacy is a moment tied to identity. Jesus asks the famous series of questions about his own identity. “Who do people say that I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?”

Matthew 16: 13-20

“When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, ” Who do people say that the Son of Man is ?” They replied, ” Some say John th Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. ”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply ” You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”
“Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”
(Jesus continues) ” I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on Earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah.” {New American Bible, parenthesis mine}.

The faith of Peter which is so fruitful for the Founding of Jesus’s church is tied to Peter’s confession of Jesus’s Identity. Peter had already tied so much of his own identity to the identity of Christ. this confession is fully shared among all of the Apostles and others following him from among the 72 on that occasion. Luke places his account of this event in the ninth chapter of his Gospel shortly after Herod Antipas’s double entendre that Jesus was John the Baptist whom he himself had beheaded. Jesus leads most of his highly committed entourage out of Galilee into the Tetrarchy of Batanea where Philip’s Caesarea was located. This was a central business hub for many interests inside and outside the empire.
Herod Philip’s relationship with his brother Herod Antipas was strained and while I can’t remember what happened to Herod Archelaus when Pilate had already ended all real power and even influence of that Herodian Quarter-king decisively. Batanea had a sizable Jewish minority and some Jewish villages with autonomy but was of the also ancient Lebanese culture.

According to the traditions of my ancient secret society whose interpretations I am disclosing in these end of year notes, Jesus led his disciples on this trip for five reasons. It was typical of him to be extremely efficient and to satisfy several goals with everything he did. Jesus was:
1. Giving Herod Antipas the slip for a while.
2. Bringing the first proclamation of his teaching to Jews in Batanea.
3.Smuggling identifiable good from his two most recent raids on the demon camps which he could currently under with Joanna and Chuza, Herod’s Steward and his wife.
4.Bringing leftover porkfish to be passed out to Batanean Jews and their families.
5. Meeting alone and secretly with the organization he had founded in his first desert raid which were his vassals mostly of the House of David but even including two foreigners and who were different from the church. This group chose and he chose for them a rendezvous outside of Galilee whenever possible.

The context is important because it shows both Jesus’s obvious material strength and success and also his obvious weaknesses compared to this city honoring both Rome and the quarter-king Philip. If a man who was able to build such an important commercial city was in league with the invasion infrastructure the Devil had described to him in detail at Caesarea Maritima and considered his barely Jewish brother Antipas too Jewish and if the resourceful Philip named this city for the Emperors of distant Rome and was himself only a quarter-king then what of a Prince with only a compound and a couple of carpentry shops, what of a Rabbi who had never finished his formal training, what of a Grandee whose wealth was four ovens, six unknown water platforms and a quarter share in six boats? What was a man who had to smuggle his loot to this city to hide even a few bags of mixed gold and silver figurines, insignia, weapons and medals to sell at low prices for secrecy’s sake? If he was dwarfed by the wealth of a quarter-king then who could he be? But in this moment the people still see him as miraculous doing something great and holy. In this moment Peter sees with his enormous practicality all Jesus is asking and yet looking at all Caesarea represents he still proclaims Jesus the Messiah and Son of the Living God. We fail to hear how astonishing it is and to hear Jesus’s confident accepting gratitude.

The Jesus of history was not the holy bum recent centuries have increasingly made him. But after the porkfish were eaten and the fine dinner for a hundred or so disciples at a big house was celebrated he and his followers had a few gifts and unreliable payment deliveries from Joanna to make it to the next big storm. They fished when they could and had the advantages of the bait sites but also shared these opportunities and spent long periods of time in prayer and discussion and preaching. They were warriors hunting and seizing a few times over four or so years and that is vital to understanding everything about them. But they were hunted far more by more than one enemy larger and better armed than they were, living in a manufactured famine and sought out by the needy in large numbers. Few people have ever lived under more strained circumstances all in all. I think most moderns really don’t believe the gospel story and so they do not see how this economic struggle and Jesus’s grace in it shapes so much of the accounts. Yet in his Master’s troubles Peter saw a Messiah and Son of the Living God. Jesus had saved his life and risked his own life for Peter’s already but still many would not have seen things as Peter did.

One of the things that takes shape in these notes is the idea that there has been a line of chiefs among the people who are now Acadians called the Basileus Arkadios and that Joseph Broussard — Beausoleil des Acadiens– was one of these. It is a tradition of my line of the secret society I am revealing that among those Jesus and his Apostles freed from captivity and certain death in the demon camps were a number of girls who were subjects of the Basileus Arkadios of that era. The Arcadians were a somewhat diffused and disorganized people with their days of statehood and wealth without equal (nearby) in a past far more distant than that of David’s reign in Jerusalem. Some Arcadians were then Jews in religion and legitimate line, some were God-fearing Gentiles of whom there were many among the people of Jesus’s time and some were pagans. They lived in there ancestral homes in ancient Arcadia in the North of Greece and in small semi-secret colonies across central Europe and the Middle East it is believed by our esoteric tradition that some of both the God-fearers and the Panist pagans met Jesus and the Apostles around Caesarea and brought him gifts from the king with his declaration of friendship and that some of them also traveled to bring token gifts of wine and bread to his mother at their compound in Nazareth. The gifts given to Jesus were a most rare blank scroll of joined sheets with no writing and a scroll from the Hebrew scripture in Greek as well as two amphorae of fine wine.Jesusit is said sent the scrolls to the Temple in Jerusalem and drank the wine with his gathered disciples local Jews and the emissaries.Some Panist left converted and did not visit the Grottoes of Pan nearby. Others it is said began to copy what they heard and some of it found its way into the lost book “the Sayings of Jesus the Christ” from which many gospel texts are drawn.

Whether or not the story is true it is a valued part of my identity that it is remembered. My identity as an (Anglo-)Acadian is much more precious to me because of the thought of the story. Jesus spoke to many Gentiles but always said his message was (at least chiefly and firstly) for the lost sheep of the House of Israel. On this point there is also an element of the warrior tradition which is relevant and unknown to the public church. The Gospels mention that at the last supper Jesus was told there were two swords and he said that such would be enough. Jesus’s entourage was often lightly armed and sometimes specifically unarmed. they had to sell identifiable captured arms and also to arm freed captives for the journey home. However, the legend is that Jesus had a weapon that was not a sword.

The weapon of Jesus was the mythical Shepherd’s Staff which was frequently carried by a lower ranking disciple attending upon him. The staff was simply shod and round at the bottom but had a concealed tip hidden in the detachable crook. The crook and tip could be joined as an ear planing adze and another adze tip was stored secretly. The whole snapped very tightly together and was wrapped also in a leather cord. This cord was also able to be run through the crook as a bow drill and a drill tip also hidden in it could be attached to one of two dowels joined by a cord which were snapped into the staff and then wrapped in their own cord. These dowels also held blades which allowed for making cuts on timbers in a variety of ways using the cord and the other dowel to manipulate them but ether could be held easily or used as a drill dowel. The whole drill could also be used as a fire drill bow. Jesus could also remove the dowel cord assembly and put it in his belt for close fighting while using the crook and reversed staff as a spear and spear thrower. John’s Gospel has Jesus crucified at Passover but places much of the story on or near the feast of tabernacles. It is in this Gospel that the cleansing of the Temple appears early and Jesus shortly after is approached by those wanting to kill and arrest him and in front of a great crowd retools his living water teaching. He says that he will make living water flow from those who hear him. Jesus actually gave this speech to observing demons and the huge crowd after his only cleansing of the Temple. He was letting them know that he was the one they suspected but did not know whose weapon hit their guards and punctured the heart. John’s distortion of the timeline is also a clue as to the totally extraordinary events of the year that Jesus died. According to some the “We” who rewrote John’s gospel from his original text were disciples who also had been or were Magi. The year when Pilate had begun to encroach each week a little closer to the holy court’s with the insignia of pagan Rome. That and killing the Galileans were signs of all out war and invasion. There is evidence That Jesus and his allies in the Temple maneuvered to have Passover called a month earlier or a few weeks later than the allowable time that year and only part of the usual crowd was there. Jesus entry and defiance in the market was a controlled outpouring of the `frustration before Pilate was ready. Under this theory or tradition Jesus was crucified on the day we would know as April 19 or something that year when there was a partial eclipse predicted by the Magi. I do not know the dates involved in their tradition and can’t find the right eclipses consistently on my search engine. But when one moves in esoteric one meets those who also move in it and the theory when explained properly makes some sense but it is not our theory. These Magi also believe that many unexplainable things happened that day but that he planned his crucifixion to coincide with the eclipse. Such persons would then have Jesus’s birth at about 6 BC rather than 1 AD. That is not the secret society of which I have been speaking rather it is another secret society that believes in Jesus.

It was also this staff’s dowel cord assembly to which Jesus attached the long strings to make the whip with which he cleared most of the Temple Market in front of the mighty Antonia Guard. Meanwhile shouting in Pilate’s establishment’s hearing that even having a market near the Court of the temple was a desecration. He shouted this in a Galilean accent while Pilate thought of how it must be to have killed Galileans offering their sacrifice in the Court of Israel itself. Guards were injured but most humiliating of all He slipped completely away. After that no tradition makes mention with authority of the Shepherd’s staff.

In the first film I ever saw with my ex-wife there is a scene that comes to mind here. In the Rand Haines film “Children of a Lesser God” Marlee Matilin’s character resembles the actress who plays her in being a deaf beauty. The character called Sarah has graduated from the school for the deaf where William Hurt’s Mr Leeds is teaching. He is sexually attracted to her but also wants to teach her to speak. After having rebuffed his attempts to teach her several other times she ridicules the facial expressions of another deaf student when speaking and a bit later says “I never do anything I can’t do well”. The tensions are not resolved there but there is the sum of her reasons. Whatever, the Apostles may have been originally they were suddenly preaching, baking, fishing, raiding, rabbinical students involved with a man with a lifestyle which is perhaps the most unusual lifestyle in history in its final set of combinations. They could not have felt that they were always doing their tasks well. Their belief in the Christhood of Jesus and their embrace of that identity is largely what sustained them through what is quite possibly the most unique apprenticeship in the human record.

As my own birthday approaches I think that we all receive much of our identity from what we have done with and made of our lives. Like Sarah in the movie we spend some of our time in and some out of our comfort zones. I find every physical limitation’s increase with age hard to bear. I had thin eyelashes and eyebrows all my life but now they are already disappearing almost and each wound of youth almost remains. I accept those personal weaknesses as part of my identity. But I also notice them as unpleasant.

I am writing this just before the wedding of some friends. I know that they are reshaping their own identities in the wedding. The two really do become one in so many ways. I have to shower now and get ready for the rehearsal supper. It is part of my identity to try to be presentable when I can. I think that we all understand the importance of identity. To know Jesus Christ’s identity has been a long journey for me and to know my loved ones also. I have rambled aimlessly to an end here. Perhaps I will complete 52 notes to tell you who I am before June 15 or perhaps not. Regardless I will be me and all I do must take that into account.

 
End of  Facebook Note–
 
I hope ye brave, ye few, ye proud — ye readers — will discover more of your own identity and of the identities of those about whom you ought to know more in this wintry season (or summer or otherwise depending on where you live). I hope the identity of Jesus Christ has some meaning for you as well.  
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One response to “Personal Identity

  1. Pingback: Easter Triduum Reflections and Notes | Franksummers3ba's Blog

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